The Chicago Bears defense no longer boasts Khalil Mack as its superstar edge rusher. The defense’s brightest star is now Roquan Smith, who, to be honest, was already that guy. But Mack is still Mack, and for the Bears to trade him before the first ‘real’ season with Justin Fields at quarterback, they had to get something big in return, right?
Let’s take a look at the compensation and see if the Bears actually did well.
Here’s what they got: A second-round pick in 2022 and a sixth-round pick in 2023. They also unloaded his entire contract.
Here’s what they lost: 64 starts, 36 sacks, and 35 tackles for loss (as the primary statistics he accrued in Chicago).
The most recent trade that also involved a Hall-of-Fame pass-rusher occurred this past season when the Denver Broncos traded Von Miller to the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Denver received a second- and third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft for Miller, who started 142 games for the Broncos and registered 110.5 sacks.
If we rewind to 2018, when the Bears traded for Mack, they gave up (in total) two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and a sixth-round pick.
Sure, Mack is now 31 years old and hasn’t had more than 10 sacks since his first year in Chicago, but it’s a stark decline in value for a Bears team that invested so much in a player who was supposed to retire as the next great defender to roam Soldier Field.
A second-round pick and a future sixth-round pick? For Khalil freaking Mack?
I don’t think anyone could’ve reasonably expected a first-round pick in return for Mack at this point in his career. And while football media will describe Mack as a generational player who just changed teams, the reality is generational players don’t get traded TWO times. At least, not very often. But it’s within reason to have expected something greater than a future sixth-round selection paired with what will be the 48th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Sixth-round picks are rolls of the dice. They’re usually special-teamers or practice squad dudes. Occasionally, teams will strike gold and award a late-day-three player with a lucrative second contract. But that’s rare. And if that’s one of the two assets received in return for Khalil freaking Mack? It feels light. Really light.
Maybe comparing the Bears’ return for Mack to what the Broncos got for Miller is unfair. The Rams don’t care about draft picks, so it makes sense they’d throw in a third-rounder too. The Chargers don’t play by that same all-in set of rules, apparently.
General manager Ryan Poles did what he thinks was in the best interest of his Bears team. I trust him. He’s a bright guy with a good vision. And he’s a really good talent evaluator, too. He’s watched the tape; he’s graded Mack’s performance; he assessed the value he thought was fair for the player Mack is right now.
Poles’ final asking price for Mack seems like a discount, but we’ll see. If Mack is the same player for the Chargers that he was for the Bears the last couple of seasons, the returns on the trade will be good. Really good.
If, however, Mack returns to his annual 12-sack form? Poles might have some seller’s remorse.
- May 16, 2022
- May 16, 2022